Senior running back Tanner Jones rattled off a pair of long touchdown runs to lead host West Valley over Franklin Pierce 46-13 in the first round of the State 2A football playoffs on Saturday.
“Our kids came out and played real hard,” WV head coach Craig Whitney said. “First half we had to kind of figure them out a little bit, and then in the second half we kind of poured it on.”
Both teams got off to a slow start before the Eagles (11-0) opened the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown run from quarterback Blake Transue. WV split time between two quarterbacks, both throwing more than 10 times.
“We’ve got Blake … and we’ve got Matt (Allen), and we trust them both,” Whitney said.
WV had several missed opportunities on offense negated by penalties early on, but the defense made up for that. The Eagles shifted the momentum midway through the second quarter, forcing a safety on the Cardinals (6-5) to extend their lead to 16-7.
“Our defense has been stellar all year,” Whitney said. “We kind of say we’re going to score on offense, but the defense is going to win games for us.”
After a field goal in the final seconds of the first half, WV started the second half right where it left off. On the first play after WV received the kickoff, Jones busted through the line for a 64-yard touchdown run. The senior credited team drills as to how he kept from going down.
“We do a come-to-balance drill to stay on our feet,” Jones said. “I was just doing that until I was close enough to launch myself into the end zone and get the diving touchdown.”
The Eagles will play Selah (9-0) in next weekend’s quarterfinals. Whitney wants to focus on cutting down on their penalties.
“We’ve been real good all year,” Whitney said. “We were sloppy in a couple spots, so we need to clean those up and fix those things. As you go deeper into the playoffs, you can’t afford to have penalties take field position away and points away.”
WV senior lineman Josh Quirk is optimistic after finishing the game with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“I’m thinking another ‘W.’ ” Quirk said. “Gotta keep it going for the school, not us. We’ve got a lot of people and alumni that are watching us.”
Colville 29, Connell 14: Dawson Flugel had 100 yards receiving with two touchdowns and the Indians (9-1) defeated the visiting Eagles (8-3) in the first round. The Indians will play Newport (10-1) in the quarterfinals next weekend.
Liberty 57, Lyle-Wishram 14: Jawuan Nave totaled 178 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns and the Lancers (11-0) beat the visiting Cougars (7-4) in the first round. The Lancers move on to face DeSales (8-3) in the quarterfinals next weekend.
Almira/Coulee-Hartline 72, Colton 46: Maguire Isaak had 320 yards passing with five touchdowns and ran for 224 yards with three touchdowns and the Warriors (9-2) defeated the Wildcats (7-4) in Coulee City. The Warriors advance to the state tournament next weekend and the Wildcats are eliminated.
Cusick 62, Entiat 38: The Panthers (9-2) beat the Tigers (6-5) to advance to the state tournament next weekend. The Tigers are eliminated.